Protesters from the Land Workers Alliance staged a demonstration at the entrance to the biggest official farming event of the year yesterday, complaining that modern farming methods were damaging the planet.
About 50 people who work on the land – mostly on small farms – held up banners and attempted to talk to delegates heading for the Oxford Farming Conference.
The protesters, under the heading "Not our Voice", claimed the conference excluded farmers' voices from agricultural debate.
"The cost of a ticket at over £300 makes it inaccessible for farmers on low incomes," one of the demonstrators said. "Small scale, organic and agro-ecological producers represent a significant and growing proportion of our food economy but are excluded from this conference.
"The Opportunity Agriculture theme of the Oxford Farming Conference is sponsored by corporates including McDonald's and Syngenta. We believe that the corporate sponsorship and industrial methods of production endorsed by this conference put it at odds with a sustainable farming future for the UK.
"Without the voice of small scale farmers, discourse about farming is dominated by agri-business, landowners, industrial scale farmers and corporations."